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Whitacre College of Engineering Today


Texas Tech Among Best Graduate Schools

The Texas Tech University Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering overall graduate engineering program and seven individual degree programs are ranked in the 2013 edition of Best Graduate Schools by U.S. News Media Group.

  • The overall graduate engineering program moved up to a ranking of 93rd among 198 programs nationwide.
  • The Department of Chemical Engineering ranked 81st in the Chemical category.
  • The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering ranked 68th in the Civil category.
  • The Department of Computer Science ranked 121st in the Computer Science category.
  • The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering ranked 78th in the Electrical/Electronic/Communications category and 76th in the Computer Engineering category.
  • The Department of Industrial Engineering ranked 37th in the Industrial/Manufacturing category.
  • The Department of Mechanical Engineering ranked 81st in the Mechanical category.

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Outreach Event at Murfee Elementary
Outreach Event at Murfee Elementary

Engineers Week Promotes Engineering

Engineers Week 2012 was held February 19-25, 2012, and featured events that highlight the fun and diversity of engineering at Texas Tech. From outreach events for students of all ages to a canned food drive and a student organizations fair, the week was filled with fun. Here are some highlights:

Murfee Elementary Outreach "Engineering Elephants" Activities

On Tuesday, February 21, Texas Tech students from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Women in Mechanical Engineering, the Formula SAE Team, and the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) went to Murfee Elementary in Lubbock to promote engineering to elementary school students. The students read Dr. Michelle Pantoya's book "Engineering Elephants" and did a "Lunar Landers" activity with a third grade class.

Pink Engineering Dinner
Pink Engineering Dinner

SWE Hosts Pink Engineering Day

On Wednesday, February 22, the Texas Tech SWE section held its annual Pink Engineering Dinner in the Matador Room of the SUB to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the college. Special guests and speakers at this year's dinner were Joan Hood, the first female mechanical engineering graduate from Texas Tech (1961) and Elyse Hogan, a former Texas Tech SWE president who graduated from the college in 1998 and works for Raytheon. Approximately 100 women attended the event.

GEAR Competition Kickoff Event
GEAR Competition Kickoff Event

Get Excited About Robotics Kicks Off

On Saturday, February 25, more than 500 kindergarten through eighth grade students, parents, and teachers from more than 40 schools in West Texas participated in the kickoff event of this year's Get Excited About Robotics (GEAR) challenge at Texas Tech. In this year's challenge, "Power Up," students use LEGO robots in a fictive energy company and perform tasks such as relocating oil drilling rigs, repairing an underwater oil pipeline, delivering solar panel for a new solar panel array, and engaging safety stops on windmill generators. Teams are now designing their LEGO MINDSTORMS robots at their schools before they return to Texas Tech for a trial run on March 24 and the competition on April 21. Teams from Lubbock are mentored by engineering freshmen from Texas Tech.

For more information on GEAR competition in Lubbock visit the GEAR website or contact Dr. Tanja Karp at

FTC Competition Photo
FTC Competition

Texas Tech Hosts FTC Regional Championship

Teams of 9th-12th graders from the western half of Texas participated in the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) Panhandle-Plains Regional Championship Tournament on March 3 for an opportunity to win statewide recognition for design excellence, sportsmanship and teamwork and to advance to the National Championship in St. Louis.

FTC is a challenging mid-level robotics competition designed for high school students who want a hands-on learning experience to develop and hone their skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and is programmed using a variety of languages. Teams, including coaches, mentors, and volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles.

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Faculty News

William Lawson

Lawson Named TSPE Engineer of the Year

Dr. William D. Lawson, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named the Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) Engineer of the Year. The TSPE Engineer of the Year Award is the highest honor given to an individual TSPE member. Chapters nominate eligible members for consideration at the state level. Eligibility is restricted to engineers whose sustained and unusual contributions have improved the public welfare and the advancement of his/her profession. The award recognizes an engineer of recognized standing, preferably registered, and a citizen of Texas.



Smith Named Fellow of The Texas Engineering Foundation

Dr. Jimmy H. Smith, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been named a Fellow of The Texas Engineering Foundation (TEF). The TEF was established by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers as a nonprofit charitable foundation to support the goals and ideals of the professional engineers in the State of Texas.



Pal Receives President's Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Ranadip Pal, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is one of the 2012 recipients of the Texas Tech University President's Excellence in Teaching Award.

The award is given to faculty members that demonstrate excellence in teaching, as observed by students, peers, and university administration.


McKenna Named Outstanding Referee

Dr. Gregory B. McKenna, a Horn Professor and holder of the John R. Bradford Chair in Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has been named an Outstanding Referee of the Physical Review and Physical Review Letters journals, as chosen by the journal editors for 2012.

The Outstanding Referee program was instituted in 2008 to recognize scientists who have been exceptionally helpful in assessing manuscripts for publication in the American Physical Society (APS) journals. By means of the program, APS expresses its appreciation to all referees, whose efforts in peer review not only keep the standards of the journals at a high level, but in many cases also help authors to improve the quality and readability of their articles — even those that are not published by APS. In this year, 2012, 149 Outstanding Referees were selected.

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Alumni News


Larrañaga Named to Board of Scientific Counselors

Dr. Michael Larrañaga, a Texas Tech graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in industrial engineering, has accepted an invitation from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He will serve a three-year term on the board, which conducts research, experiments, and demonstrations to advance occupational safety and health.

Larrañaga is the department head of the Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology program, a Simplex Professor, and the director of the Boots & Coots Center for Fire Safety and Pressure Control at Oklahoma State University.

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Grants and Contracts

February 16, 2012 – March 18, 2012

Chemical Engineering

  • Drs. Gregory B. McKenna and Brandon L. Weeks were awarded $97,500 by the Office of Naval Research. The title of the proposal was "Resolving the Complexity of Hot Spots Caused by Weak Energy Concentration and Coupling in Composite Energetic Materials."
  • Dr. Harvinder S. Gill was awarded $106,077 by the National Institutes of Health. The title of the proposal was "Targeting the Oral Cavity Epithelium for Inducing Mucosal Immunity against HIV."

Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Transportation

  • Dr. Moon-Cheol Won was awarded $3,000 by the TX Dept of Transportation. The title of the proposal was "Technical Support for Rigid Pavement and Concrete Materials Branch 46-IMTIA018."

Center for Pulsed Power and Power Electronics

  • Dr. Andreas A. Neuber was awarded $12,500 by the National Physical Science Consortium. The title of the proposal was "NPSC Fellowships for Jacob Stephens and Andrew Fierro."
  • Dr. Stephen B. Bayne was awarded $2,600 by the Academy of Applied Science. The title of the proposal was "Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program."

Mechanical Engineering

  • Dr. Jingzhou Yang was awarded $2,900 by the TX Space Grant Consortium. The title of the proposal was "Autonomous Delivery and Deployment System of Communication and Navigation Beacons."
  • Dr. Qing Hui was awarded $138,030.25 by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The title of the proposal was "Balanced Coordination Algorithms for Damage Mitigation and Resource Allocation in Network Systems."
  • Dr. Jingzhou Yang was awarded $2,900 by the TX Space Grant Consortium. The title of the proposal was "Design Flight Deck of Future."
  • Dr. Michelle L. Pantoya was awarded $48,750 by the Office of Naval Research. The title of the proposal was "Resolving the Complexity of Hot Spots Caused by Weak Energy Concentration and Coupling in Composite Energetic Materials."

Water Resources Center

  • Dr. Kenneth A. Rainwater was awarded $207,621.20 by the EPA/TX Agrilife/TX Soil & Water Cons Board. The title of the proposal was "Llano River Watershed Protection Program."

See a full listing of the college's events on the Engineering Master Calendar.

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